When you are involved in a car accident, you should always call 911 as soon as you can. Reporting an accident is important for getting the help you need and, later, proving a car accident case in court. But how long do you have to report car accidents, and are there other reporting requirements?
South Carolina car accidents are typically reported to three parties: the police, your insurance company, and the courts. First, you should always call 911 and report a crash immediately. Second, your insurance policy will dictate any deadlines to report your crash to your insurance company. Third, if you choose to file a lawsuit, it must be filed with the courts within 3 years of the accident.
For help with your car accident case, contact the South Carolina car accident attorneys at Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers. For a free case review, call us at (803) 451-4000 today.
When to Report a Car Accident to the Police in South Carolina
After a car accident, you have to stop at the scene of the accident, give over certain information, and “render aid” as necessary. More specifically,
- S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-1210 requires any driver who was involved in a car accident involving death or injury to stop and remain at the scene of the accident (except while actively calling for help).
- Section 56-5-1230 requires you to give over certain information and call for medical services for injuries.
- Section 56-5-1260 requires you to report car accidents to the police if they involve injury or death.
These sections, taken together, require you to stop after an accident, call 911, report the accident to the police, ask for an ambulance, and exchange contact info, insurance info, and vehicle registration numbers with the other drivers.
Keep in mind that this report must be made “immediately,” according to § 56-5-1260. This means that you should use your cell phone – if you have one – to call the police right away. If you do not have a cell phone, ask for someone else to make a call right away.
If an accident is not reported for whatever reason and the crash was not investigated by the police, § 56-5-1270 requires drivers to make a written report to the DMV within 15 days of the accident. This only applies to crashes involving injury, death, or property damage that is apparently over $1,000. This is something your Columbia car accident lawyer can help you with.
When to Report a Car Accident to Insurance in South Carolina
When you are involved in a car accident, there are two important insurance carriers that might need to be notified: your own insurance carrier and the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier. South Carolina uses an at-fault or “tort” car insurance system, which means that the at-fault driver’s insurance pays for the victim’s injuries. That means that you would file with the at-fault driver’s insurance company if you need damages, but your own insurance company might want to know about the crash, whether you were at fault or not.
Reporting Your Crash to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
Generally, you will want to file an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company to get compensation for your injuries. However, you should never say anything to an insurance company without speaking to a lawyer first. Your Lexington car accident lawyers can advise you on what to say or make the report on your behalf to ensure that nothing gets confused or misunderstood by the insurance company.
Insurance companies typically have their deadlines for filing claims, which are determined by the policy. In any case, you should act quickly and report the crash on the same day that it happened, if you can. Otherwise, it should certainly be reported within a few days – though additional time may make sense if you are incapacitated in the days after your crash.
Reporting Your Crash to Your Insurance Company
You should always go over the terms of your own insurance policy with your South Carolina car accident lawyers after a crash. Your own policy might have first-party benefits like med pay that can help cover you after an accident. Your policy might also require you to report all car accidents to your insurance company, whether you are at fault or not.
Insurance companies typically raise rates if you are at fault for a crash. However, you might still have a reporting deadline in your policy that you need to follow, preventing you from “hiding” any accidents from your insurance company. Make sure to work with a lawyer to make sure you follow all necessary reporting deadlines.
When to File/Report a Car Accident Case in Court in South Carolina
Some drivers are happy with the insurance payouts they receive and have no need to file a lawsuit for their car accident case. However, you should never accept those damages without having a lawyer review your case first. Many insurance companies seek to keep expenses and payouts low, and the only way to get your case compensated in full might be to take it to court. Your South Carolina car accident lawyers can work to file your case on time and follow other timing requirements in your case.
First, you should know that you must file any car accident injury lawsuit within 3 years of the date of the crash. Under S.C. Code Ann. § 15-3-530, this 3-year deadline applies to most claims for injury, including car accident injury cases. If your case is filed after this deadline, it cannot be heard.
Along with this filing deadline, there are deadlines for other parts of your case, such as deadlines for serving the defendant notice of the claim and deadlines for responding to different filings as the case progresses. Your Sumter car accident injury lawyers will be responsible for these deadlines, but it is important to start early to give your lawyer enough time to prepare your case and meet the initial filing deadline.